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Federal versus State Workers’ Compensation

Erwin, McCane & Daly | Thursday, July 09, 2015

The state of New York has their own workers’ compensation laws, but what local workers do not realize is that there is also a federal workers’ compensation plan. Overseen by the Department of Labor, this plan is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) and offers compensation to civilian employees working for government agencies.

If you have suffered from a workplace injury, it is important to understand the differences between state and federal workers’ compensation claims and see what your particular case may qualify for. Your workers’ comp attorney can explain everything properly.

Eligibility Differences with Workers Comp Claims

The biggest eligibility difference between a state and federal workers’ comp claim is that to receive benefits from the OWCP, you must be a civilian employee of the U.S. government. Your injury or illness must also be duty or employment-related. If you are not a civilian employee of the government, then you would file for state workers’ compensation benefits through your employer.

Compensation and Benefits

Both federal and state authorities compensate the injured employee for their medical costs, surgeries and hospitalizations. Some key facts regarding these benefits include:

  • Choice of Physician - Both state and federal laws allow an injured individual to choose their physician or clinic. However, after treatment and compensation has begun, the OWCP must authorize any new attending physician.
  • Temporary Total Disability - Under the OWCP, an employee can request a continuation of regular pay, but it may not exceed 45 calendar days. If disability goes beyond the 45-day mark, they must use their sick or annual pay and the employee will receive a reduced pay rate. Injured employees with permanent disability can receive a cash settlement with the federal workers’ comp claim just as they can with state, but the settlement is calculated based on the type of disability, loss of earning capability and damage to specific bodily parts.
  • Sovereign Immunity - Unlike state workers’ comp claims, federal governments and associated agencies are immune from any public employer liability. That includes negligence or acts of violence that led to the injury. Federal workers, unlike state workers, cannot sue the federal government for their on-the-job injury even if the government is blatantly negligent. The federal employee can, however, file a suit against the third party if they were not working directly under the federal government.

Workers’ compensation claims are complex to understand and navigate through. Whether you are a private employee or you work for a government agency, it is best to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney and explore your legal options. The attorneys at Erwin, McCane & Daly understand the qualifications and steps required to file a claim with the federal government or the state of New York.

Call us today at 518-449-2245 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation